Her little heart shaped my life.

Post date: Feb 24, 2012 4:05:25 PM

My baby sister was born with Transposition of the Great Vessels. She lived 7 days.

I was 4 years old; I would turn 5 years old in a month.

My first memory:

I was walking around the back of our house to our cement patio with my grandmother. I was a kindergartener. But my mom missed it. She had missed my first day of school. She missed my blue dress, my messenger bag, and my blue Mary Janes. My dad missed it too, but I wasn’t so concerned about that. They were there, my mom and dad and my grandpa. They were sitting in metal green patio chairs. My mom was in the glider rocker, from the same green metal patio set, rocking, her glazed eyes staring forward. Where Amy, my 3 year old sister, was I don’t remember; probably trailing behind me, as she had a habit of doing.

And there she was, my mom. Suddenly in front of me, her eyes locked with mine. She was kneeling, her permed brown hair framing her face. Her oversized, early 1980’s glasses making her blue eyes, that were full of tears, appear even larger than they were.

And in the next moment, we were in the bathroom, my mom and I. She was sitting on the toilet, with the seat down, using it as a seat to talk to me. She was telling me something important. “Your sister isn’t coming home.” “Bridget died.”

Who is Bridget? I guessed that was the name of the child that was in my mom’s tummy. Only there wasn’t a child in her tummy anymore. The baby. The baby that I was so excited about. I helped wallpaper her bedroom, was it a Muppet Babies wall-paper? I remember the ladder, I remember playing in wallpaper goo, I remember hearing, “Stop that, this is for your brother or sister, don’t mess with it, Rebecca.” And now the “brother or sister” wasn’t coming home. Bridget was in heaven. She was my guardian angel now, mom said.

And there were presents. The living room was full of presents. Beautiful baby blankets. There was a yellow one. We could not keep that. We needed to give the presents back, I remember hearing.

I have figured out that my sister was born on my first day of school. She was in the hospital for 7 days; her surgeon was the first surgeon that would later operate on my own daughter 21 years later. The day that my grandmother brought me home was the day of the funeral. I was sheltered. I was protected. I went on being my oblivious, carefree self, because the adults in my life wanted it so.

I want to do the same for my child, my daughter. But how do I protect her and keep her from the harsh realities of life when it is her life that has been oh, so harsh? When she is the one that had the liver transplant at 17 month of age? How do I protect her from that?